Philly-based hip-hop trio, Ground Up, have been blowing up the music scene with their eccentric style and witty wordplay. They have spent the last few years gaining the likes of music lovers from their hometown, all the way up North to Canada, and west to California. But they aren't stopping with just music. In between sit downs at Pandora and entertaining their more than 20,000+ followers on social media, the guys have been In collaboration with Death and Axes, one of Toronto's hottest tattoo artists, to produce a line of edgy graphic tees, hoodies, and hats as only they could... Dope af.
The collection has just been released early on a limited edition pre-sale exclusively on Colabination. Cop your gear before the masses with your entry code LETSRIDE.
We caught up with Deane, head of the Ground Up apparel line, to uncover it all.
Who is Ground up?
Deane [D]: It’s a group of best friends that were able to create something really beautiful that was able to inspire people with music.
How did the name Ground Up become the name of the group and brand?
Deane: Azar had it for a while when he was doing some solo work, so when he linked with Bij Lincs and Malakai they stuck with the name.
What’s your role in Ground Up and Death & Axes?
I’m the Brand Director and Designer. I facilitate and direct the day-to-day operations in design and production for the merch and clothing, and I’m one of the three designers of everything we make.
What influenced you guys to create a clothing brand for Ground Up?
It was kinda a brainchild out of necessity. It started as just the regular merch. The guys didn’t really have anyone facilitating it and it was a little unorganized when I got there, so I just took the role. We obviously saw it as another form of revenue, but all of us have a strong desire for high-end fashion and I think collectively we have a good eye for it. We all knew that someday we wanted that merch to grow into a clothing line.
Why partner with Death & Axes?
When we were on tour out in Canada, we reconnected with a kid that we all went to high school with. We found out later that he was the man behind Death & Axes and it seemed like a really good aesthetic at the time. There’s a correlation in his design between the death of old styles and music we created, and a rebirth of some new directions we’re taking. We developed six or seven designs with him, so he came down to Philly from Canada and it grew organically.
How would you describe Ground Up's aesthetic?
[D]: It’s really eclectic and depends on which one of the guys you ask at what time of the day (haha). It’s interesting, Bij, who produces the music, would go up to his room and he’ll listen to Jazz or any type of older music. Al’s currently hip-hop but he’s wearing a rock band tour t-shirt, and Malcolm (Malakai) just kind of wears what he’s got. I think eclectic is the best way to put it, a little modern day hip hop with some old school rock.
How would you describe the wearer of Death & Axes x Ground Up collab?
I like to think we are a little bit ahead of our time as far as designs are concerned. We’re going for the kid that’s 15-22 years old, who’s looking for an underground brand with hidden meanings. With fashion now everyone is looking for that next brand. That’s why we call our pieces collections, we consider our costumers collectors.
What can we expect from the line?
Two hoodies, four different hats, and three T-shirt designs on superior quality, locally sourced material with grim reapers and smoking skeletons.
Why debut your line with Colabination?
It’s funny because an old friend Alexis, who now works at Colabination, helped design Ground Up’s old mixtape cover for Higher Ground years ago. I don’t think we talked for a couple years when all of a sudden we get an email from her telling us what Colabination is all about. That was our in from the beta stages. Our relationship with Scott, Founder/CEO, has since grown organically. We share similar mindsets for the future of fashion and (obviously) are passionate about collaboration as much as we are, so it was a done deal. Cop the line exclusively on Colabination before we open to the public with the code LETSRIDE.
What influence does Philly have on your brand?
It has a gritty underground aesthetic with a touch of class that is felt when I’m there. I think all of us feel that and we try to let it protrude into the designs and clothing that we make.
How often do you release new merchandise?
We definitely do not go by the fashion calendar. We like things to grow organically, so we’re going to go with this until we get our next flood of inspiration. We make stuff as it comes to us, everything we do is limited releases. We want to base our stuff on hype. You’ll be wearing something that not every guy walking in Urban Outfitters can get. The benefit of our brand is you’re going to be able to stand out.
Tell us about your May 21 release show at Bourbon & Branch.
It’s a place we’ve played at many times, and it’s a real intimate setting. It’s 100-person capacity and we just wanted the show to be special for the fans and the people purchasing tickets. We’re going to be doing some cool stuff, every fan is going to get the chance to meet the guys and we’re going to do Polaroid pictures signed by the guys that they can take home.
What inspires you guys to keep going?
Usually it involves us being in a room, making fun of each other. We have a group text for me, Al, and Bijan and we’ll just throw out an idea and it’s like "Dude that’s the dumbest f*cking thing I’ve heard". Other times, it’s like, "Dude let’s go make 20 of them tomorrow". Bij is also a Photoshop maniac so he does a lot of messing around. He’ll do T-shirt mockups and send them to us. It’s really interesting when you get them flowing in your group text.